Yesterday I published a statement from the author Ghada Karmi about the pain of visiting her family’s former house in Jerusalem in 2005 at the invitation of then-New-York-Times bureau chief Steve Erlanger. The Times owns an apartment built atop that house. I asked Erlanger, now the newspaper’s London bureau chief, if he wanted to respond to the account. He wrote:
You’re asking me to react to something you’ve already published, which is fine.
I would only point out that I contacted Ghada after I read her memoir [In Search of Fatima, 2002], which ended with her inability to get inside the house of her childhood, and I wanted to help her do that. It was not meant as a polemical gesture but a human one for a writer I admired.
I also want to emphasize that the New York Times does not own the Karmi house and New York Times correspondents do not live in the Karmi house. An Israeli family does.
Ghada herself notes that we were living “in an apartment which had been built on the top of our house. Our house was a villa on one floor. They don’t have two stories. But this had been built at some time. The New York Times bought it in like 1983. And its bureau chiefs have been living in it ever since.”
Sometime in the 1960’s, I believe, certainly years after Palestinians fled or were pushed out of the area, someone built a two-story dwelling on the roof of the single-story Karmi house, which is legally separate from it and shares no living space with the Karmi house.
I believe Tom Friedman bought it for the NY Times in the early 1980’s, perhaps 1983.
We’ve been through this before, but your own article implies that the New York Times and its reporters occupy the same house in which Ghada grew up. That is not true.